Ocean’s Eleven (2001) movie poster

(2001) dir. Steven Soderbergh
viewed: 06/15/02

Steven Soderbergh has mastered many aspects of making poppy, popular Hollywood fare, and Ocean’s Eleven exemplies the style and character of his last four or five films. It’s entertaining, stylish, and more intelligent than at least 90% of the rest of the stuff that the Hollywood machine cranks out. It seems an ironic spot for a former “Indie” director to have worked himself into, but he definitely seems to be thriving as one of the current name directors in American mainstream cinema.

Out of Sight (1998), his previous teaming with George Clooney, was similarly up-tempo and fun to watch and was certainly less overtly a “social issue” film, like Erin Brockovich (2000) or Traffic (2000). Soderbergh does seem interested in the conventions of genre in these films, and in Ocean’s Eleven, the film is almost unabashedly a “caper film” in which the storyline’s entertainment value far outweighs its need for plausibility.

And it is entertaining, though not spectacular. Though Soderbergh’s films tend to be up-tempo, they also play a little low-key (I guess as opposed to “over-the-top” or somewhere in between).

Ocean’s Eleven certainly played with the surveillence theme, envisioning the casino as panopticon and Andy Garcia’s casino operator as the all-hearing, all-knowing being behind it all. His control stems from his ability to know everything that goes on in his casino. And ultimately he is duped when the images that his equipment projects are pirated and falsified. And he is, without a doubt, the heartless villain behind the machine.

But I digress into an analysis that would definitely take some more thought and probably as second view to work up. And after all, this is just good plain fun mindless entertainment, right?